It's the end of an era. "Lost" is having its final Television Critics Association press tour session.
I still remember how excited and confused we were when the show was first presented to us back in July 2004. I imagine we're every bit as excited and every bit as confused today.
Our panel includes Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and an assortment of series stars, including Emilie de Ravin, Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia.
Since this panel is bound to include some spoilers -- but probably not huge ones, knowing Cuse and Lindelof -- this live-blog will contain spoilers, so skim at your own risk after the break...
9:00 a.m. Pacific. Excitement building. Hot breakfast settling. Caffeine still kicking in.
9:02 a.m. We're running around five minutes late, presumably so that Cuse and Lindelof can flip a coin and decide what the Smoke Monster actually is.
9:05 a.m. ABC is bringing out the big guns to introduce "Lost" with Steve McPherson taking the podium to thank and salute the "Lost" guys and, now, the state of Hawaii. Yay, Hawaii. Lots of awards for "Lost." Yes. We know. We don't plan on asking them about their Peabody.
9:06 a.m. McPherson says that Cuse and Lindelof have lived up to the challenge of finishing this journey.
9:07 a.m. Ah, a nostalgic montage. As you may have heard, once upon a time, a plane crashed on an island. Actually a plane crashed on an Island. There was a hatch. There were magazine covers. There were paparazzi. There were DUI arrests. [That last part isn't featured in the video.] I'm not sure if this video is new, but we're told that we're going to get the answer to the biggest question of all. And that question is...
9:10 a.m. The stars took the stage while we were in the dark. "I'd like to ask each one of you what happens in the final season..." is our first question.
9:10 a.m. They still have seven episodes left to make.
9:11 a.m. "I was whispering to my castmembers, 'I am going to cry like a baby when this show ends,'" says Lilly, who calls this experience life-changing. Garcia was that "Right now, it's very appreciative and precious." Holloway compares the feeling on the set to the feeling of the first season, in terms of happiness. Lindelof calls this "a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-career experience" and calls it a gift from the network. He's grateful and glad he's going to get away with this.
9:12 a.m. "We came up with the final image of the show a long time ago, back when we were first plotting the mythology of the show back in the first season," Cuse says. He notes, though, that they've been adding elements and says "The end is not yet written," suggesting that some of the character stuff is yet to be fully worked out. "It's a fun processes because we have a concept of where we want to end the show, but there's still the process of actually executing it," Cuse says.
9:14 a.m. "I knew about a month before you knew," O'Quinn says of learning that he hadn't exactly been playing Living Locke all of last season. "Quite honestly, we just don't speak to them at all," Lindelof jokes about keeping actors in the dark about big twists. Cuse says that the actors are extra-present because they don't know what's coming, which brings in an immediacy. Lindelof says that, frankly, it would have confused Locke to know the specifics early on and that the script just said "There's something about Locke that's different."
9:16 a.m. "Working on 'Lost' has upset most of my previous ideas about actor preparations," says Emerson, so says it's nice not be be burdened with secrets.
9:17 a.m. "They have not pressured us at all," Cuse says of the possibility of a spin-off or continuing the brand. "We are definitively ending this story of these characters," Cuse adds, promising there won't be added secrets or hints at a backdoor pilot. Lilly says that those of us out here don't necessarily understand how tiring their process is.
9:18 a.m. Time to list favorites. De Ravin says she enjoys the moments working with the entire original cast, which happens less these days, obviously. Dae Kim references the launching of the raft at the end of the first season. For Holloway, it's too huge a question, but he likes group scenes, even if they take a long time to film, "But if you position yourself just right, you get to cut up and have fun the whole time." Lilly will miss Sangria Thursdays, a Season Six tradition. Lilly's most memorable moment was also from Season One, the episode where Claire gave birth and Boone died, which made her cry.
9:21 a.m. More memorable moments... Lindelof remembers meetings between the writers and ABC executives, pitching different seasons and different arcs and wondering how to explain concepts like "time travel" to the network brass. He's impressed with how much they've been able to do. Cuse also mentions the raft launch of the first season, because it was a great example of the collaborative process of the show, with the actors, with director Jack Bender, with the orchestra doing the score. O'Quinn will just miss the collaboration. "I have lots of fond memories of breathless confrontations in small rooms," Emerson says, which earns a laugh, but we understand what he means. "Running away from an exploding plane wing is always something that's going to be emblazed in my head," Garcia says.
9:26 a.m. "The premiere is definitely like 'What? Wait. Let me read that again,'" Garcia hints, while Holloway says that it felt like a finale. De Ravin says she had to read the season premiere three times for it to make sense. "Get ready to scratch your heads America, " Lindelof announces.
9:27 a.m. "You constantly get to try on a new character even though you're still playing the same character," says Lilly. "You haven't been playing Kate since Season Three," Lindelof jokes. Maybe. Dae Kim is impressed that the show is still changing its structure and storytelling after all of these years. Lilly adds, "We're not bored yet and we're in Season Six."
9:29 a.m. Emerson loved that the last season ended with a two-part cliffhanger. It's been too long since this writer has seen the finale from last year. I'm going to have to rewatch it before the premiere. "The season premiere picks up right after the finale," Cuse says. "We don't really want to give away what the show's going to be this season," Cuse adds as an explanation of why no new footage has been released this season. Oooh. Is that a hint. Is "Lost" going to be entirely in black-and-white this season? In 3-D?
9:31 a.m. "All we can do is basically put our best foot forward. We do feel like the worst ending we could possibly provide... is the safe ending," he says, warning that they can't go for the ending that will make the most people happy. He says, though, that they've had three years to think about it, so this is the ending they want and they're satisfied with where they are. He predicts that there will be people who think it's the worst ending in the history of television, though he's sure that his mother will love it, even though she doesn't understand the ending. Cuse warns that some questions won't be answered, because doing only answers would be pedantic and that part of the show is about the mystery and that going down to the midochlorians of it all would demystify the story.
9:35 a.m. Holloway recalls first reading the part of Sawyer and thinking, "This guy is such an asshole. I have to figure out how to stay alive." He warned his wife that if the character didn't have new dimensions, he'd be killed off pretty quickly. Fortunately...
9:36 a.m. J.J. Abrams had to promise O'Quinn that there was more to the character than what we saw in the pilot. Then he got the script for "Walkabout" and he was convinced.
9:37 a.m. Cuse is relieved that Obama is dodging the "Lost" premiere with the State of the Union. "What's amazing is that you realize how fickle your political affiliations are," Lindelof jokes. His reaction to hearing that the State of the Union might be on February 2? "That motherf***er."
9:38 a.m. New footage from the season *will* be shown before the premiere, but not much and not for another couple weeks.
9:39 a.m. "The story of the sixth season very specifically has to go back to the beginning to examine a lot of things," Lindelof says, noting that we will examine the characters and their roots, showing how we got from the beginning to the end. The writers are making effort to remind the audience of the "before" so that the journey is emphasized.
9:40 a.m. Cuse says that "Lost" has been a hard show for Emmy voters to process and understand, given the structure of the voting. He seems not to be worried, though. "It's a miracle that the show won an Emmy in its first year," Lindelof notes.
9:42 a.m. Is it possible to be a new viewer to "Lost" and watch the last season? Well, the pre-premiere recap show is a 43-minute recap of the full series to date. Cuse says the narrative structure of the final season doesn't require "deep and vast knowledge." "I think if you've watched the first season of the show, that's probably the most important thing going into the final season," Cuse teases.
9:43 a.m. A few of them were in Rome this summer promoting the show.
9:43 a.m. A Brazilian reporter asks what the show's legacy will be and if we've already seen the ending in a previous flash-forward or flash-back. On the legacy question, Lindelof says that after the finale, people will just be talking about the finale, in the same way that people only talked about "The Sopranos" in terms of its finale in the immediate aftermath. He wants to people to feel like the investment of time was worthwhile. "And no, you haven't seen the ending yet," Cuse adds.
9:45 a.m. Are they worried about being linked forever to "Lost." "I'm retiring," Holloway jokes. "I'm only doing conventions."
9:47 a.m. Why did it take me this long to realize that the reason Josh Holloway looks weird to me is because he's clean-shaven?
9:48 a.m. Last question. It's for the actors. What does their life look like after "Lost"? First, Cuse interrupts by saying that Harold Perrineau will be back on the show this year. Lindelof announces that Cynthia Watros' Libby will be back in the final season as well. "So finally your Libby questions will be answered," Cuse says and Lindelof responds, "No, they will not."
9:49 a.m. "I'm guessing there will be less mosquitos, but I don't know for sure," Garcia says in response to the previous question. Lilly says that there will be freedom to being able to leave Hawaii and be back in the world. O'Quinn says they'll just be unemployed actors.
9:50 a.m. The panel ends and reporters swarm the stage like locusts. Who's going to get most swarmed? It's hard to tell from here...